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Gimbal in phone camera module – Image stability tech explained

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Ethelyn Brye is an award-winning author and blogger. Growing up in Switzerland and influenced by renowned Swiss design and a lot of fresh mountain air, she attended and completed design studies in Geneva. Post graduation she moved to Washington State to work for a design firm, but her love of writing brought her to Cyanosaur. She's highly interested in strategy rpgs, mountain climbing, board games with friends and skiing. She lives in Seattle, Washington, with her lovely cat Armstrong.

Smartphone camera technology still has some scope for improvements when it comes to achieving DSLR camera-like photography. Lately, we saw the periscope architecture for phones which allows for flat-plane movement of the lens using an L-shaped tunnel design. This brings hyper-zoom levels to the smartphone cameras which have limitations in the zoom lens movement. Huawei brought this innovative camera technology to the P30 Pro last year and then other manufacturers like Samsung followed the footsteps with their flagship Galaxy S20 Ultra. Now, in 2020 yet another innovative smartphone camera technology embraces us in the form of Vivo X50 Pro. The smartphone overcomes the space and lens movement constrictions to bring physical gimbal stabilization which overshadows the current optical image stabilization (OIS) tech – promising super steady photo and video output – even during excessive phone movement. For example, while running, walking down the stairs or shooting a video exploring the rough terrain of the mountains. Just like the periscope lens, the smartphone camera gimbal lens is a first for any mobile device. Vivo revealed this technology at the beginning of the year in the form of Apex 2020 concept phone. The Chinese company claims that the gimbal system has a 300 percent bump in performance over the current optical image stabilization. Vivo X50 Pro’s 48MP gimbal stabilized camera The rear camera module of the phone houses four lenses – a 48MP primary sensor (f 1.6 large aperture) which is the one having the gimbal support, an 8MP super-wide-angle sensor with 120-degree-field of view, 13MP bokeh sensor and an 8MP telescopic sensor with 5x optical zoom. The highlight of them all is the 48MP lens which has a double-ball structure for attaining the triple-axis rotation which basically makes the lens float inside the camera housing. Not only does it move in two dimensions but in the third dimension as well. So, it compensates for the tilting movement too, which has never before been seen on a phone camera. Combined with the optical image stabilization and electronic image stabilization, the camera is virtually invincible when it comes to shooting in unstable conditions. The phone starts to show its prowess in shaky hands or while running on rocky terrain as the lens moves in the opposing direction of the shake to neutralize the movement. As evident from the X50 Pro teardown in the video (seek to 01:30), you actually get to see what this camera lens is doing at the hardware level. The movement is actuated by a dedicated chip and stabilizing motor along with the magnets and coils. Having an in-built gimbal on your phone for the primary lens has a lot of advantages. First of all, it saves you from carrying around physical gimbals which are not practical at times and secondly, a less shaky lens means more stabilization while shooting in zoom mode. The more zoom levels there are, the more the phone movement is amplified. So, a gimbal equipped camera lens ensures the resulting photos and videos are sharper
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